Creepy Consequences of Plagiarism
Writers of this day and age
Don’t you notice something strange?
Ravens fly above your heads,
Monsters hide under your beds.
You wake up in a cold sweat
‘cause your Pencraft is at threat:
Ask your faithful Muse within,
“Who can hide his evil grin,
Just pretending to be noble?”
Dear Author, you’re in trouble!
Halloween will open doors
To your friends and to your foes,
Ghouls and witches everywhere
Are not the ones you should beware!
Finding one peculiar mask
Will be your essential task:
It embodies narcissism,
Dualism and nihilism.
It has mawkish lyricism,
In its rusty mechanism.
Through its weirdly altered prism
It distorts aestheticism…
Yes, this beast is plagiarism!
Search for it and conquer it –
Friar's lanterns have been lit!
Genuine wordsmiths wouldn’t trade their souls for fame. They would never become allies with sly demons of stolen works. They would read the poem above and turn into plagiarism hunters together with us. But now, imagine that you are a writer who is not skillful enough, or simply tired of being in the shadow of more prolific and distinguished authors; what would you do to change the situation? Before your imagination starts flying, read the story below and keep in mind: fiction stems from reality.
A Writer’s Soul that Was Lost…
Jacob was so desperate and crestfallen that he decided to stroll through an old Victorian graveyard away from the city crowds… Such peaceful and macabre places inspired him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t put this inspiration into practice. He wrote and wrote, and all his stories were trivial: editors only laughed at his manuscripts and rejected every piece. “What is wrong with me? I read books delightedly, I absorb every word and value the beauty of language, why can’t I write myself?”, Jacob repeated these thoughts so many times...
He was walking and thinking about the absurdity of his life when, suddenly, he saw this exquisite gothic vault with a sculpture of an anonymous author writing a book. The following words were inscribed on the stone tome: “What I wrote died with me. I am unknown but you can be my second self. Find my book and put your name on it only if the price of fame doesn’t scare you…” The lad touched the stone book and it started to revolve slowly until it revealed an old-fashioned bronze key. It was like a dream. Jacob began trembling. He exclaimed, “Is it a sign from spirits? Well, I don’t see any book beside the stone one here. That must be a riddle with no answer – so typical of the 18th-century people, they were so eccentric… but the key?...” Jacob wasn’t able to complete his reflections as he suddenly stubbed his toe on something heavy standing on the ground. He cleared the fallen leaves and saw a bronze casket: the antique key was meant to open it, indeed. Jacob unlocked the casket, and what did he see? A gorgeous book the hard cover of which was all wrapped in red velvet. Its silver title gleamed as a gemstone, it read “The Elegy of the Lost Soul.” Jacob took it in fever and ran away home…
His mysterious discovery was indeed a gem: an emerald of knowledge, a sapphire of inventions, a diamond of creativity… and no one knew the true author who was dead as a doornail. Human nature is weak, and, unsurprisingly, Jacob chose the easiest way. He sat down at a typewriter and started copying the book word for word. All that was changed in the end was the appearance of “the author’s name”. The magic worked, and the ill-starred hero became famous. He obtained success and affluence but was never happy. He indulged in hedonism, had many false friends, and was even lonelier inside than before, but some magnetizing power kept him from confessing that he didn't write a word...
After one of the greatest parties in Mr. J's honor, the devil came to take his soul, saying “The modest spirit of an unknown author strolls down paradise, but you… now you are my captive till the crack of doom. Plagiarists burn in hell; didn’t you know?”
It was a beautiful November morning. Jacob woke up from the longest dream. "Good heavens! Was it just a nightmare?..."
You can rightly guess, my lovely readers, that this awkward dream inspired Jacob immensely. He wrote a book about it, and after that, his mind became so fruitful that he started creating even more fanciful storylines and remarkable characters that found their grateful audience. The sorrowful young fellow grew into a knight of the pen who never, ever thought about stealing from others, even the dead ones.
Among Jacob’s books, you can find an ironical and slightly fantastic essay for all the plagiarists out there. It is told on behalf of a fictional character: the Collector of Copycats. Special attention should be paid to his list of consequences for the mentioned transgression.
The Collector: "The main autumnal carnival is here! I am the creator of the unique cabinet of wonders: the living exhibits are many-faced copycats who were caught and tamed! Welcome to the spooky dimension that reveals all delusions and makes all swindlers doff their masks! I behold the excited crowd and I can read what’s written in your eyes, I see the upright intentions as well as desires to deceive, but if you plagiarized even once, be sure I will find you and you’ll replenish my exhibition of would-be writers and painters! Oh, now I see more clearly and you cannot escape: a writer who hates writing, a student who loathes studying, an editor who always dreamt to be an author and only envied others… that’s why you chose the easiest and less virtuous way, you called plagiarism monster and he came… So now, poor souls, get ready to face the creepy consequences.
Let us begin the scribbler’s feast,
(Please carefully read my list!)
You’ll feel the touch of eerie mist
If you’re indeed a plagiarist!”
- A Deep Remorse
- Betrayed Readers
- Buried Dreams
- “Dorian Gray” inside You
- Lonely Bones. Words as Stones.
The majority of imitators are not soulless creatures, so their misdeeds will torment them from within. Though it’s not easy to catch a plagiarist into a trap to punish them, they will punish themselves anyway. Pangs of conscience will take over them: they will suffer from insomnia; they will become even less productive than they were before the act of plagiarism. Weak-willed copycats will confess very soon. If you’re one of them, just ask yourself, was it worth it?
So you plagiarized “successfully”, without leaving a trace. Your fraud helped you gain adherents who constantly praised your mastery, but the justice won and the admirers found out the truth about their feigned idol. What can be worse than disenchanted readers, the audience that loved you but started abhorring you in short order? You’re fortunate not to live in the epoch of the Inquisition.
If you plagiarized a minor research paper, you may be lucky enough to be only punished according to the rules of your academic institution. Once you repeat the misdeed again, you’ll get expelled. If you decide to plagiarize in the heyday of your career, you risk discrediting the profession you’ve chosen. The more you plagiarize, the sooner you will fall into the abyss of lost hopes and unfulfilled dreams – all because of your ridiculously doomed decision to choose the simplest and least honorable way. I think ruined reputation, career, and life are not your aims. Only one instance of serious plagiarism can result in vast skepticism of decision makers towards your future achievements. It will take long enough to restore everything you lost.
Even if you don’t have a portrait that hides all your sins: stealing the ideas of others also distorts or even erases your identity – especially if you plagiarize regularly. The graveness of plagiarism can be enormous if you steal somebody’s essential work that meant the entire life devoted to investigations and creative searches.
The metaphor I used in the title indicates one more creepy consequence of plagiarism – it’s likely you will be lonely, especially if you lay hands on an oeuvre of high significance, such as an entire manuscript or a noteworthy artwork before its release. If you get exposed, “verbal stones” of reprehension will be thrown at you for a start while the worst will patiently wait around the corner. You will be lonesome and secluded not because the other people are so moralistic but because you will end up in prison. Prepare yourself for complete despair or silent submission. Start forgetting about your cozy room with a wonderful view as well as all the things you loved in your daily life: even a year in jail may seem like an eternity.
The mist dissipates. The carnival is over. May you all wake up with pure minds and individual thoughts. Be wise to remember that the tree of knowledge can turn into the monster if a plagiarist eats its fruit. This ghastly transformation happens not only during Halloween night – every day, in their maleficent nooks, furtive inksters, art forgers, self-avowed musicians, and other impostors nibble away at the efforts of their unsuspecting victims. However, the ever-vigilant guards of pencraft always watch over you. Beware of plagiarism monsters, beware!